Wednesday, August 25, 2010

If You Are Reading This...

The Future is happening.  Not some stupid sci-fi thing, I'm just scheduling this to post in a few days when I'll be at MSSM without any internet... god.  Yeah.  No.  The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy is the only science fiction I ever actually enjoyed, and I have read a lot of sci-fi.  But, yeah, whatever.  Right now, or last Friday, I was/am waiting for a friend to show up for a last bit of time together.  My suitcase was/is zipped up, making me absurdly proud of my negotiating skills, because that baby was/is bursting.  No heavy dinnerware in it this time.... My new Le Creuset is/was in another bag.  The only things on my bed now were/are my laptop (which I really hope(d) the school people won't/wouldn't go through and do god-knows/knew-what to all my music and documents and photos while they scan(ed) for viruses), camera, and a small backpack full  of helva and turkish coffee.  That's the bag I'm going to keep close at hand for the first few weeks- in case at any point I realize I'm actually checking into some government-prison-spy-highsecurity THING that I don't want to be part of, because really, I put in my time with the US government this summer - for trekking out into the frozenness with.  Good, compact calories, you see.  I must practice making igloos, too. 

So, who knows what will/has take(n) place since now/then.  Maybe I've become a homesick wreck, which I can't/couldn't quite imagine now/5 days ago, as I feel/felt sort of checked out of my family for these (next) two weeks*.  Perhaps everything is/will be great and I will be/am just itching to put these great photos up of all my new friends and be a nerd and talk about my amazing chem class.  Or the .com crash (read: apocalypse), which would render this existential crisis of a post a total waste of my time and confusion.  Let's hope not, retrospectively and otherwise, and I'm going to stop now before this starts making sense.

*The first long weekend isn't until a month into school, but I have a conveniently-scheduled optician's appointment on the weekend of the local fair. 

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Test Of Sorts/Goodbye

I am trying to figure out whether Blogger's notoriously sketchy 'scheduled post' button works.  So, if all goes well, by the time you read this I'll have actually gotten up and dressed and fed myself and ridden around a bit on my new *bike!* and be frantically finishing my packing.

I've been saying goodbye all week.  I had a few friends over to have lobsters, and our malevolent dinners rendered us all more sticky and juicy and pungent than they themselves started off.  No matter, it was delicious, and afterward we retired to The Barn, which should really just be my official residence for all the time I spend there, and watched WallE.  Because it is seriously the sweetest movie ever made, possibly beating even E.T.  But I'm not going to pit them against one another, there's a generational advantage here.

Ever tried to play table football (though I understand that Americans call this "foosball") with a strobelight on? 

Because I am a bitch to myself, I'm going to remind you all and myself where I was two weeks ago by throwing you one İstanbul photo I absolutely failed to put up before. 

I'm smelling good things from downstairs, so I am going to put on some clothes now, seeing as one of my mother's granola bitches (she's hired a couple boys from my old high school) is probably down there, and go have what may be the last good breakfast of my life.  We'll see. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Gosh, I got a lot done today.  I guess that's what happens when you get up at seven-thirty.  I mean, by half past eight I was in town at a quick meeting with a lady who works at Mamello English School.  It's a school in Lesotho, mainly attended by HIV positive, disabled or orphaned children, and I did my bat mitzvah charity work raising money for it with a charity spelling bee.  We're organizing another bee fundraiser for the school together this year, and we needed to go over a few details.  After that, to the supermarket to buy them out of dry goods for my dorm kitchen.  Onwards to other shops for things such as chef's knives, a mobile phone and a Hepatitis vaccine.  That one was all right until I started reading the information sheet that the nurse gave me afterwards.  Shudder.  Oh, and an eye appointment for contact lenses!  I have, I'm told, a very strong blink reflex.  I took the things out just now before having a bath, as on the first day one is only meant to wear them for four hours, and I got the second one on my first try!  They're very difficult to put in, and my eyes are a little sore now, but it's just magical to be able to see perfectly with no glasses.  I'll get used to dealing with them, and it's so nice (if strange) not to have anything on my face.  I shall probably decide to start wearing eye makeup a little more regularly (which means the happy coincidation - why isn't that a word? - of my remembering, having time and caring enough to deal with it), because my lashes are so pale they are actually invisible, and I look very different without frames, but no matter.  With a class schedule that doesn't start up until NINE THIRTY every day, I can afford to spend a little more time getting ready.  At the moment, though, I'm just spending time getting excited.

A friend who's been away almost as long as me this summer just got back home, and I am going to have people over sometime this week to say goodbyes and parti.  Tomorrow holds blueberry fields and a final visit to the cinema before I venture into the vast and internet-less depths of the first two weeks of school.

Yes, you read that right.  I shall have to figure out how to auto-post.

Another note: I have decided to be more cynical.  Not in life - I don't know that I could.  I mean here.  I feel that I have been deceiving you, my dear sweet millions, my gasping, adoring masses, of my true nature.  You may not like it, and I may not care - unless you are reading this in a country with a truly gorgeous flag, in which case I adore you with every fibre of my heart not already possessed by baklava - but we shall manage, shan't we?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Video - Call To Prayer

This is from one of my favourite web comics, Cat and Girl.  I thought, given the way I've indulged in the belowmentioned sweet this summer, I might post it to see if anyone else thinks it's funny. 
And, now that I'm back in the states where there's no national YouTube block, I can give you videos!  Here is the call to prayer, finally.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Home Again - Temporarily

Ah, well.  I suppose this is just a time to catch my breath between Turkey and School.  It's all so impossibly short.  But hey.  I am back on my laptop, and the funny thing is that I'm having trouble adjusting back to US keyboards!  I keep reaching up to the 1 key to type an apostrophe, and I'm almost nostalgic for all those ı characters now.

Home is a funny place to be now.  The last six weeks were full of a lot of food, music and new friends - people I feel incredibly fortunate to have met.  I have been conscious in the last few days of just smiling at one memory or another, and having to snap out of it quickly before somebody decides I'm in love or up to no good.

I miss Turkey, and everything is still so fresh in my mind that I can't quite convince myself in the mornings that instead of going to school to see Arzu Hanım and wander Ankara with my friends, I am going to go downstairs, see the granola in production, and leave to babysit my darling five month-old friend from New York , and prepare for school, something I'd completely put off thinking about while in Turkey.  It's not that I'm not happy to be home.  I am.  But when I get on my computer, all I want to do is look at photos from this summer, and all I want to speak to people about is Turkey, in turkish.  Part of my head thinks I'm still there, but Im slowly catching on.  Today I will eat no simit from street stalls, catch no sweaty buses, and I probably won't even sweat. 

After my host family went to America, I moved in with my grandparents.  They and my eight-year-old cousin from İstanbul, who was also staying with them, don't speak much English, which was great for me.  I caught a dolmuş home in the afternoons instead of the bus, which was a little different and fun for the three days I had to do it, and, despite my host mother's fears that I would be fed to death, it was all great.  

Last Friday (I can't believe I was so far away a week ago) we had a party at school, with cake and certificates and many hugs with our teachers and waiter and a lot of photos.  The previous day we'd given Arzu Hanım a present - a lovely vase, flowers and a framed picture of the class and her, from my camera, and everything was pretty fantastic.

Actually, though, it was what happend after school on Friday that made the day a little special.  I walked a different route to Kızılay with two classmates, and we found ourselves looking at the magnificent Kocatepe Mosque, perhaps Ankara's only beautiful building.  A man came up to us on the street and somehow we ended up following him inside this mosque, which was perhaps even as stunning as the Aya Sofia and Sultan Ahmet ones in İstanbul.  We left our shoes at the door and I and my friend - the other was (and still is, I suppose) a boy - were brought headscarves, and god.  That place was beautiful in a way that made me understand religion a little bit.  If there was a faith centred on building places like that, I would be a crazed believer.

We are Americans.  This means that every experience, every day, no matter how authentic, fascinating or ethnically correct, must include Starbucks.  We walked to the one on Kızılay.  It was there that this gorgeous baby girl who was just learning to walk stumbled up to us and started to play with me.  Maybe I was still high on that mosque, but she made me so happy just by putting her snacks in my lap and letting me feed them to her, and after a few minutes, her mother called me 'abla'.  Big sister.  Lovely.

(I'm making it sound as if I really adore babies, aren't I?  Actually, I don't... they're here, and I'm here, and we get along all right, but don't pull my hair too hard or it's back to Mama.)

It was there that the goodness stopped, though.  I walked from Starbucks with a friend to his apartment to pick up his power adaptor so that I could charge my camera before going to İstanbul the next day, and on my way back to catch the dolmuş I saw a kid get hit by a car.

Turks drive like maniacs, and I heard a scream on the other side of the street and saw this little girl - she must have been about six - on the asphalt with the wheel of a taxi almost on top of her.  A huge crowd gathered as her mother grabbed her and dragged her to the pavement.  They were both screaming, which was a relief - at least the poor thing was alive.  I didn't realize until later that i understood what her mother was screaming at the taxi driver, as I watched people check this child over, pour water on her, pull out their mobile phones to call an ambulance.  I was thoroughly shocked, but there were at least fifty people there and I couldn't be of any help.  I carried on getting home, but was really shaky the rest of the afternoon.

That night, or the next morning really, at 1:30 am, we all met up at the bus station to catch our otobus to İstanbul.  I said goodbye to my grandparents and got on, and we all drifted in and out of consciousness for seven hours.  Then we got to İstanbul and I wished I'd slept solidly,  because what followed was a half hour of lugging overpacked bags through that crazy city, which, at eight in the morning, was just beginning to spill its hungover soul back into the streets and start to party again.

What followed was a day of sickness, reunitation with the İstanbul NSLI-Y crowd (we were a lucky group - they fought the whole six weeks and there was some t e n s i o n), more Starbucks, a gorgeous nighttime boat tour of the Bosphorus, and crazed hanging out in hotel rooms until five in the morning.

I was not destined to sleep the next day, either, for flights are delayed and shit happens.  And the strangest thing happened after we had 'de-planed'.  What a word.  Anyway, a turkish woman heard me talking to one of the other AFSers about my school, and she interrupted to say she knew it!  Turned out, she was a professor at the Florida Institute of Technology and had a student who went to MSSM a few years ago!  The world just keeps getting smaller...

Anyway, I'm home now and have far too much to do.  I have to go now, so I'll put a thousand pictures on this post later.

Oh, and isn't this just the Summer of Gay Rights?  Argentina, Mexico, now California again?  Keep it coming!

Hoş çakal!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Well, this may be the last opportunity I have to post until I get back to the States.  We fly on Sunday, but my host family is actually off to America for a holiday tomorrow, so I'm staying with my host-grandparents until Friday night.  Our bus to İstanbul leaves Ankara at 1:30 am Saturday.  I am stunned by this information and have no comprehension of why anyone let alone (or even?  Some of them are pretty nuts) AFS would schedule such a thing.  No matter, we shall reach İstanbul early and spend an exhausting day basking in its glory before flying home Sunday.  I'm excited to see the İstanbul NSLI-Y group, and the other AFS Turkey summer people who weren't on this scholarship, and the 12 days I have at home are something I'm looking forward to

(Things I am going to eat: blueberries, rare meat, spelt bread, lobster, Maine mussels, greens from my family's garden, pork, distinct from bacon, and a lot of fruit desserts)

And I'm half-scared, half-excited for this nutty school I'm going to.  But, guys, I've just spent my summer in Türkiye.  I am just beginning to feel confident with this language, as if I could really do well if I could study it more.  The heat doesn't bother me as much as it used to - at the beginning of this trip, every day on the bus I would feel this slick of sweat on my back just slide hotly and roll down the backs of my legs, and now I can actually make it through the day conscious of something other than 'God, what did this part of the world do to deserve this?' - and I adore the food like nothing else.  The people are friendly and, for the most part, not too creepy, and I love my family and my teacher and my new friends. 

Oh, I dıdn't realıse I was leavıng NOW.